12 Tips for Back to School

Image cred: Resident Doctors BC

Image cred: Resident Doctors BC

 Students! It's that time again! How many of you are starting pharmacy school for the first time? Congratulations! Getting into pharmacy school is a great achievement. I remember the excitement and energy surrounding orientation and the White Coat Ceremony.  Many of the friends I made that first week are still friends today. What an exciting time! I've compiled a list of a few things that I learned along the way - I hope they will be helpful to you as you start your new semester!

A few things to know:

1. Get your expectations straight and get used to not having downtime - you will always have a test. You take one test, another pops up on the calendar, just get used to always studying. 

2. Medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, and pharmacokinetics can not be learned in a night. I'm sorry, but unless you are some super wizard - and let's face it, some of you DO exist - you will have to study. This concept was one was of the biggest things I learned the first year. Yes, I always studied and was prepared in high school and undergrad, but pharmacy school was on a different level. I had to keep up with everything daily (study after class to solidify what you learned, etc...).  

3. First impressions really do count - please do not wear sweat pants to the first day of school. Yes, it may highlight your personality and uniqueness, but believe me, there is plenty of time to showcase that. As a preceptor, I always appreciated when my students were prepared the first day, when they showed up with the proper materials, in the proper attire, and on time!

4. Financial aid - figure it out early and plan your budget.  I found financial aid so confusing when I was a student - if you have any questions, please email me at thepharmacistsguide@gmail.com!

5. Prioritize - get a system in place for your studying; maybe you meet in the library after class three days a week. If you are taking a class remotely, maybe you dedicate the hour before to reviewing notes and reading the assigned chapter.....find a way. 

6. Go out, socialize, have fun, but not too much! I was amazed at how many parties were thrown in pharmacy school - many by our professors! There was always an event going on. Yes, do have fun! But also don't make it a nightly event. I had class members who went out a lot and their grades suffered. 

7. You will make lifetime friends. Pharmacy school is such a bonding experience. You spend a lot of time together and you are going through the same stage of life. Be open to new relationships. You may be working with these people someday and the connections you make will be lifelong. 

8. Work/volunteer in a pharmacy - it will make learning those drug names and indications so much easier! Plus, you will have good references, mentors, and resources.  We had previous pharmacy technicians in our class (and nurses!) and they all had a leg up on familiarity with medication. 

9. Take care of yourself. By this, I mean proper nutrition and exercise. You can't expect your brain to be functioning at it's best if you aren't fueling it properly.  

10. Study, study, study some more......

11. Your professors are a great resource! If you don't understand something, don't wait until a few days before the test to figure it out. Ask them after class or stop by their office. 

12. Enjoy it - yes, it is annoying when everyone tells you to enjoy this time as a student when you are worried about money, having no social life, being unsure of the future.....but it is true! Accept the moments. Not having it all figured out yet can be a beautiful thing. You are present, vulnerable, and accepting of knowledge.